California Suspends Death Penalty

California Gov. Gavin Newsom

California Gov. Gavin Newsom

California Gov. Gavin Newsom will sign a sweeping order on Wednesday putting an executive moratorium on California's troubled death penalty, thus ordering a reprieve for the 737 people on death row. Just last month, two California prisoners who each had spent over 30 years on death row were freed after appellate courts found significant errors in their trials.

"I do not believe that a civilized society can claim to be a leader in the world as long as its government continues to sanction the premeditated and discriminatory execution of its people", he said in a statement issued with the executive order.

Public opinion in California on capital punishment has shifted dramatically in the past few decades, with increasing numbers of people preferring the option of life without the possibility of parole to the death penalty in most cases. The order will not alter any current conviction or sentence, or lead to the release of any prisoner now on death row.

Calif., Gov. Gavin Newsom will sign an order on Wednesday imposing a moratorium on California's death penalty. Jerry Brown, another Democrat, agreed to some limited retesting of evidence in the case previous year. It will not affect inmates' convictions or their imprisonment, other than eliminating their death sentences, the source said.

They were replaced by Brown's successor, Republican tough-on-crime Gov. George Deukmejian, a former attorney general who oversaw a vast expansion of California's prison system before he left the governor's office in 1991.

Eighteen other states and the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty. The state's new governor supports a repeal bill in the Legislature.

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In referring to the president's attempts to spend billions of dollars on building the border wall, Newsom said it's a distraction to steer away from more substantive solutions to the immigration problem.

But he added that Trump "somehow" misunderstood Newsom. "Other people I've seen literally put to death for lesser crimes, and that concerns me". Governor Newsom supported both initiatives. "It tells us a lot about the state of the death penalty in the United States when two of the five largest death rows in the country have moratoria on executions and one-third of everybody on death row is incarcerated in a state that has a moratorium". Human Rights Watch believes these rights can not be reconciled with the death penalty, a form of punishment unique in its cruelty and finality. A repeal would require a popular vote in favour of the change. Levine's district includes San Quentin State Prison.

Newsom's aides said it has not yet been decided what will become of the execution chamber, or whether corrections officials have been told to top preparing for executions, for instance by running drills.

Seventy-nine condemned California inmates have died of natural causes since the state reinstated capital punishment in 1978. Another 26 committed suicide. In remarks Wednesday, Newsom plans to note that 25 inmates on California's death row have exhausted their legal appeals and "could soon be eligible for execution".

California has not carried out any executions since 2006, as a series of court battles over execution methods have been waged.

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